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A Trio of New Digital SLRs
by Vivid Light Staff

As we prepare to go to PMA next week, a trio of new Digital SLRs have been announced from Canon, Fujifilm, and Nikon. The 8.2 megapixel EOS 1D Mark II is Canon's latest rugged pro-level digital SLR. 

The 12.3 megapixel Fuji S3 replaces the S2 we recently reviewed. This is Fuji's newest pro-digital solution. It's predecessor, the S2, enjoyed a huge following among wedding photographers. 

The Nikon D70 was first announced last month in a press release so vague it didn't even indicate how many megapixels the camera would be. The lack of any hard information in that original announcement led many cynics to speculate that the camera was in fact vaporware and that the real purpose of the press release was to keep Nikon shooters from switching to Digital Rebels. Nikon has responded with detailed technical information on the camera to show that it is, in fact, the real thing.     

We expect we'll have considerably more information on these cameras after PMA.

Canon EOS 1D Mark II

Canon's latest features an 8.2 megapixel CMOS sensor (3520 x 2336) and the new, faster DIGIC II imaging engine. This combination allows the Mark II to capture 8.5 frames per second in bursts of up to 40 frames in JPEG and up to 20 frames in RAW mode, making this the fastest digital SLR on the market - for now. 

One key to that speed is Canon's use of dual 32 bit RISC processors, one to detect focus while the other controls the lens drive. Canon has also doubled the resolution on the CMOS sensor and doubled the size of the high speed buffer memory. The new DIGIC II chip is twice as fast as the image processor used in the EOS-1D and four times faster than the DIGIC chip in the EOS 10D and Digital Rebel. All of which should add up to one blazing camera. Sports shooters are already foaming at the mouth. 

Like it predecessor, the 1D Mark II is a rugged pro camera. It's exterior and chassis are constructed of a rugged, lightweight magnesium alloy. The body is highly weather-resistant with more than 70 gaskets and seals, and the camera's lens mount is made of stainless steel and is fully compatible with all Canon EF, TS-E and MP-E lenses. Its shutter is durability-tested to 200,000 exposures (50,000 more than on the EOS-1D) with a top speed of 1/8,000th of a second.

The camera's E-TTL flash metering system has been completely redesigned. Though still compatible with all EX-series Speedlites, the "smarter" E-TTL II captures the subject as a "plane" and ensures that images containing various colors and levels of reflection are captured accurately. The system compares the ambient light with the reflected pre-flash off the subject reported in all 17 metering zones and selects the areas with a small difference to be weighted for flash exposure calculation. This system also eliminates or under weights areas with large differences recognizing them as an extremely reflective objects in the background or as a highly reflective subject, confirming that judgment by considering the distance information data provided from compatible EF lenses. The system similarly prevents over-exposure when photographers lock focus and recompose the shot by considering the flash output level calculated according to the subject distance. The camera also allows users to select an average metering pattern by using its custom function settings. The new flash system should put a smile on the face of Canon wedding shooters. 

Even the LCD has gotten upgraded and now has double the resolution of the LCD on the EOS 1D.

Canon's new Digital Photo Professional software has been designed to speed workflow (of wedding shooters in particular), provide more comfortable operation and with the new direct print function, clients can see a proof images on site. This software is supposed to be significantly more powerful than previous Canon software, incorporating features normally found in image editors. 

Fujifilm S3 Pro

Fujifilm has earned a place at the table as one of the top digital SLR manufacturers along with Canon and Nikon. Their S2, based on Fujifilm's proprietary Super CCD SR sensor, has sold well and attracted a big following among wedding photographers. 

Now the S3 comes out of the gate with a new 4th Generation Super CCD SR sensor that uses 6.17 million S-pixels to produce 12 megapixel output images. 

The S3 follows it's predecessors, the S1 & S2, in utilizing Nikon F-mount lenses. The S3 also offers compatibility with the well proven and dependable Nikon D-TTL flash system and the S3 has a PC socket for use in the studio. 

Fujifilm claims the SR sensor's unique double photodiode design will produce images with a dynamic range four times greater than that of a sensor using single-pixel technology, broadening the tonal capability and providing greater detail in all areas of the image from bright highlights to dark shadows. 

The S3 uses a newly-developed, bright two-inch 235,000 pixel LCD monitor with approximately 100% frame coverage, and accepts both xD-Picture Card and Microdrive media.

Nikon D70

After much speculation and chatter around the Web (most of it wrong), the details are out on Nikon's D70.

It will be a 6.1 megapixel camera available in the spring retailing for $999 (body only) or as a kit with a new 18-70mm f3.5-4.5G ED-IF AF-S DX lens for $1,200. 

The D70 is looking pretty interesting based on the pre-production specs. It shares the 6.1 megapixel CCD sensor and Multi-CAM900 auto focus system from the D100. It also includes a 3D Color Matrix meter with 1,005-pixel RGB Sensor. 

On paper the D70 is a bit smaller and lighter than the D100, but folks at Nikon tell us the D70 has a more solid feel than the competing Digital Rebel (we'll see when we try both at PMA). The D70 body is an all new design. Unlike past DSLRs from Nikon the D70 is not based on an existing body design. 

The camera has an ISO range of 200-1600 in 1/3rd EV steps and 5 EV exposure compensation is available in increments of 1/3 or 1/2 EV steps. It accepts CompactFlash Type I and II cards and Microdrive. 

The D70 is compatible with all Nikon F mount lenses and D-TTL flash units. A pop-up flash is built in (ISO 200 GN 15). 

The D70 is capable of 3 frames per second and up to 144 shots in sequence. Top shutter speed is 1/8,000th second, flash sync is 1/500th. In addition to the normal shooting modes the D70 features six pre-programmed modes: Portrait, Landscape, Close-Up, Sports, Night Portrait, Night Landscape.

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